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11 August 2016, 11:46
The proud father of diver Jack Laugher has joked that his son's Olympic gold medal triumph was because he was not there in Rio to put him off.David Laugher, 52, stayed at home in Ripon, North Yorkshire, and watched the final with their lurcher dog Alfie, saying he has been a bad luck omen in the past. Jack, 21, has made history with his best friend and flatmate Chris Mears, 23, after they became Britain's first Olympic diving champions by winning the synchronised 3m springboard competition. He will be waking up in Brazil to a personal well-done message from his father. His message read: "Golden monkey! Unbelievable result. All because I stayed at home. Love you lots.'' Mr Laugher said: "I call him monkey because of how athletic he is. With him being an Olympic champion - it is all taking a bit of getting used to, the idea, to be honest. I am beyond proud.'' His wife Jackie, 52, and daughter Katie, 20, travelled to Rio with the Mears family to be poolside for the competition. He said: "It is a fantastic feeling. It has been a long time coming and the lads deserve everything they get. They have worked so hard over the last few years and it has paid off.'' Mr Laugher, who describes himself as "a bit of a blubberer'' said he had "a bit of a cry'' in the tense build-up to the Olympic victory. He said: "It got the fifth dive and I was in 'hands over the eyes and I cannot bear to watch this' mode. Then I thought 'this is a bit stupid, I need to watch it'. Like many others, I feel a bit sick with nerves.'' He joked: "Every competition of his I have been to, he does not seem to do so well so I stayed away and he gets gold.'' Both Laugher and Mears have battled through career-threatening episodes. Laugher broke his arm on a diving board when he was about 13 and feared it was the end of his budding career. He now has a permanent plate and stitches in his right arm. Mears recovered from life-threatening illness in January 2009 when he ruptured his spleen and was given a 5% chance of survival before life-saving surgery. He was suffering from glandular fever and had no idea. His organs were squeezed by swelling, and the impact of diving on his body further aggravated the problem. Eventually this caused his spleen to rupture, resulting in a couple of mini-seizures. Mr Laugher said of Mears that for "Chris to come from that, this is just amazing''. Mr Laugher recalled that his son had "thought he would not dive again'' but he added "he just wants to win everything and be the best''. The neighbours came over to help Mr Laugher celebrate. His son will be saving his celebrations for later as he still has to compete in the individual competition next week.